I wanted to write a post a day for Dying Matters week, about death and dying and life and grief and anything else that’s relevant really, but I’ll be honest I found yesterday quite an emotionally punishing day. Not sure why exactly, maybe it was because it was the half way point of a week dedicated to death, maybe because it was the 8 year anniversary of a family friend’s death, maybe because the news was shared yesterday that the amazing Stephen Sutton had died, maybe because I’d travelled lots and slept badly in the preceding days. Maybe because today is an anniversary of sorts (more on that tomorrow), maybe because I blogged yesterday about animal deaths and spent most of the evening looking at Mogs dreading when the day comes for him. Who knows, not sure it really matters, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that even those of us who like (yeh really) to talk about death and dying, can find ourselves swamped by the reality of it at times.
So, I was delighted when I remembered that Annie C had offered at the weekend (well accepted the challenge really) to guest blog for me today. I’ve been blogging for a number of years and have never had a guest post, so I’m quite excited about this and am looking forward to pimping it far and wide. Annie, or Anne (depending whether you first met on or off line – she’ll always be Annie C to me) is a great tweep, a nurse who works in informatics (which means ensuring information gets used in health – I think), a wife and a mother, who shares her life with a coop of chickens, and the beautiful old man that is Henry. This is what Annie has to say:
I may be wrong but today life feels like an old cassette tape…. you know that brown magnetic tape, rolling along on little rollers…. You used to be able to buy them in different time lengths – 60 minutes, 45 minutes and 120 minutes but the 120 ones, although more expensive, seemed to get snarled up more readily – in my experience 45 minutes was the optimal length – just long enough to do a bootleg version of the top 20 off Radio 1.
But we can’t choose the length of our lives and sometimes the tape gets snarled up and stops working in a much shorter time than we expect. We might get warning signs, on tapes the music slows, distorts and sometimes needs a pencil to roll it back into the cassette. Sometimes I also used to patch up a broken tape with a tiny piece of sellotape and although there would be a little gap in the music, careful love and attention would make it serviceable again; so many parallels with life and health and well-being. We just don’t know whether we have a 60, 45 or 120 minute tape.
But on my old cassette player there was a pause button. I’ve been thinking that I’m probably on a 45 minute length cassette for my life. Having Diabetes means that there is a higher risk I will die younger. I remember once walking across a car park with an eminent surgeon who when I told him I had type 1 diabetes looked at me and said – ‘Oh no more than 60 then’ – I was bemused and slightly shocked and still hope to prove him wrong. He was a sweetheart but I was only about 30 at the time and it seemed like a slightly shocking thing to say but I guess he was much older than me – maybe 30 years – and care has improved greatly in my lifetime.
So it’s time to press down the pause button and think about how much tape is left and what I what the final tunes to be on the tape. My husband and I have chatted about some things, like funerals and bits and pieces but not the really serious stuff and it is time. We lost a great friend recently, he died suddenly and shockingly. We never had the chance to say goodbye. I never had the chance to tell him what a great man I thought he was. We don’t always have the chance to plan but if we do I want it to be right for me.
So I resolve to press down ‘Pause’ button for a while, the top 20 can wait, it will still be there when I come back, and to have the conversation with hubby. I will tell him I love him and how I want a good death to be for me and if I don’t have the luxury of the choice how I want them to mark my passing, with joy and love of life.
Please leave comments and thoughts on Annie’s post, whenever I’m asked I always say I blog to build discussion, think that is especially important this week, and I’d love you to join this conversation with us. Thank you and massive thanks to Annie C.